All the petty annoyances of the day— from the moment I set foot on the pavement in the morning, to the traffic on the road to the stable that evening— every single one disintegrated from the first whiff of the yard, that acrid bouquet of mud, shit and piss clearing them all away.

Is she serious?

Slogging up to the new office— the portakabin is dead, long live the portakabin— to change boots, zip up half chaps, and plait my hair, I breathed and breathed, and everything dropped off: dissatisfaction, frustration, sadness, resentment [it was uh, a challenging day]. Sharp and pungent, the yard’s is a fragrance with top notes of pee and hay, a breath of actual horse breath, and the subtle nuances of horsey skin, horsey mane, cat, dog, more mud, and of course, bedding straw. Nothing and nowhere else smells exactly like it, not the zoo, not the New York subway in August at midday, even though one might roughly approximate the same alchemical qualities in both environs. It smells of heat, and life, and it is as comforting as a hug, as soothing as hand running down your hair, as joyful as a phone call to your best friend in the world.

It’s gross, but sometimes I hate to shower after a lesson. I’d love to go to sleep [okay, I have, oink oink] with the warm, musty smell of horse on my hands. I wash my riding clothes reluctantly, I don’t quiver at cleaning manure off my boots. I do draw the line at letting my hat get skanky and manky, but lor-dee, you should see the state of my plaits at the end of an hour.

The thing is, I’m fairly fastidious. I hate bad smells of any stripe, I personally hate to smell bad, when I smell a bad-smelling human, my heart breaks— what an effective way to keep other humans at bay! I love flowers and perfume [number of fragrances on-the-go at the moment: seven], my home is redolent of lavender and sage, I burn essential oils… and the only thing that stood between me and another foul work day was the remembrance of that first whiff of equine micturation on a cold winter’s night in the Dublin Mountains.

But I would draw the line at bottling it.

*Props to Anne at smellshorsey, whose own ode to the particular perfume of our stalwart steeds is eminently excellent.

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